A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma, By Emilie Bickerton
Way back, when film was radical
Sunday 23 October 2011
In her introduction to A Short History of Cahiers du Cinéma, Emilie Bickerton argues that the French film journal inaugurated "the last Modernist project", and that without it, cinema "would certainly mean less to us today".
Strong claims, perhaps, but this compelling book goes a long way towards justifying them.
Founded in 1951, Cahiers became the mouthpiece for a cabal of upstart cineastes, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut among them, who defended the artistic credentials of modern film. They established a canon of great directors whom they famously characterised as "auteurs", and took aim at any fusty old critic who dared to disagree. As Truffaut put it in a typical salvo: "You can refute [Howard] Hawks in the name of [Nicholas] Ray, but to anyone who would reject them both, I would say this: stop going to the cinema."
These early contributors eventually left to make their own films but Cahiers continued to be influential into the Seventies – despite adopting a radical leftist political stance and high-flown academic register. When the Eighties arrived, the magazine, like so much else, declined into vapidity. Bickerton laments its demise, but in displaying the sort of iconoclastic wit that might have graced Cahiers in its heyday, her writing is eloquent proof that intelligent, forthright film criticism lives on.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader